MELBOURNE, December 8, 2019 (Tennis Australia Press Release)
Week one of the December Showdown presented by Kia has come to a close, with Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (SA) and Tristan Schoolkate (WA) winning the 18/u girls’ and boys’ titles and Alexander Despoja (SA) and Taylah Preston (WA) the new 14/u national champions.
More than 400 of Australia’s best junior tennis players are in Melbourne this month battling it out for national titles in the 12/u, 14/u, 16/u and 18/u age championships at the annual event.
Fifteen-year-old wildcard Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (SA) was unstoppable, winning five consecutive straight set matches on the way to the 18/U final, where she defeated fellow South Australian Natasha Russell 4-6 6-2 Ret. Kempenaers-Pocz joins an illustrious list of former champions, including world No.1 Ash Barty who also won the title as a 15-year-old. The win also earns Kempenaers-Pocz a coveted place in the Wildcard Play-off.
“My expectations weren’t very high. I just wanted to do my best, stay composed, stay strong and play every match as it comes,” Kempenaers-Pocz said of her week.
“Even being a wildcard, this makes me realise I can still achieve what I want. It’s a big achievement. I didn’t think I’d be doing this at 15, so I’m really happy,” she said.
In the 18/u Australian Boys’ championship final, West Australian Tristan Schoolkate was convincing, defeating Dane Sweeny (Qld) 6-2 7-5. Australia’s top junior ranked at world No.28, Schoolkate will now turn his focus to the senior circuit next year. Schoolkate will also compete in the Play-off next week receiving a wildcard into the field.
“It was a great week and topped it off with some great tennis today, so I’m very happy with my performance.
“I always knew it was going to be tough, I always have close battles with Dane. He’s a great player, so I’m happy I played my best tennis of the week.
Rounding out week one, was the 14/u Australian Championship finals.
Alexander Despoja (SA) was the first victor of the day, defeating Zachary Viiala (WA) 6-3 7-6(6) to claim the 14/U Australian Boys’ Championship. He joins familiar names such as Todd Woodbridge, John Millman and most recently Alex de Minaur (2013) in winning the 14/u title.
“I didn’t realise that I’d won it … I didn’t know if it was in or not (smiling). It felt really good to get the win, especially off a winner as well.”
“It was pretty crucial to close the match out, because if I lost that set, the third set would have been a lot tougher – Zach would have had a lot of momentum.
“It’s amazing to win, I mean I’m still in shock right now — it’s hasn’t sunk in for me yet.”
In the girls’ 14/u final, West Australians Taylah Preston and Jessie Culley battled it out in a three set thriller lasting more than 2.5 hours, with Preston coming out on top 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3.
“It’s really cool to have won this title and have that next to my name.
“There were a lot of momentum swings in the match, so it feels good to get the win after dropping the second set. You’ve just got to forget about it and focus on the next set. My focus has gotten better over the years. It’s not easy, but it’s getting easier.”
The 16/u and 12/u championships will be played alongside the Australian Open 2020 Wildcard Play-off next week.
December Showdown 2019 week one results
18/u Girls’ Final
[WC] Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (SA) def. Natasha Russell (SA) 4-6 6-2 Ret.
18/u Boys’ Final
 Tristan Schoolkate (WA) def.  Dane Sweeny (Qld) 6-2 7-5
14/u Girls’ Final
 Taylah Preston (WA) def.  Jessie Culley (WA) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3
14/u Boys’ Final
 Alexander Despoja (SA) def. Zachary Viiala (WA) 6-3 7-6(6)
18/u Girls’ Doubles Final
 Talia Gibson / Annerly Poulos (ACT) def. Olivia Symons (Vic) / Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (SA) 6-3 6-4
18/u Boys’ Doubles Final
 Tristan Schoolkate (WA) / Dane Sweeny (Qld) def.  Stefan Storch (Vic) / Nikita Volonski (NSW) 6-1 6-2
14/u Girls’ Doubles Final
 Jessie Culley / Taylah Preston (WA) def.  Lily Fairclough (WA) / Sydney Stone (Qld) 5-7 7-5 10-8
14/u Boys’ Doubles Final
 Alexander Despoja (SA) / Zachary Viiala (WA) def.  Charlie Camus (ACT) / Pavle Marinkov (NSW) 7-6(2) 6-4